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Radithor was a patent medicine that is a well-known example of radioactive quackery and specifically of excessively broad and pseudoscientific application of the principle of radiation hormesis. It consisted of triple distilled water containing at a minimum 1 microcurie (37 kBq) each of the radium 226 and 228 isotopes.


Radithor was manufactured from 1918 to 1928 by the Bailey Radium Laboratories, Inc., of East Orange, New Jersey. The owner of the company and head of the laboratories was listed as Dr. William J. A. Bailey, a dropout from Harvard College,[1] who was not a medical doctor.[2] It was advertised as "A Cure for the Living Dead"[3] as well as "Perpetual Sunshine".

Eben Byers, a wealthy American socialite, athlete, industrialist and Yale College graduate, died from Radithor radium poisoning in 1932.[4]

The Wall Street Journal article describing the Byers incident was called "The Radium Water Worked Fine Until His Jaw Came Off".[5] Byers's death led to the strengthening of the Food and Drug Administration's powers and the demise of most radiation-based patent medicines.


  1. ^ "Medicine: Radium Drinks". Time. Apr 11, 1932. Retrieved 11 July 2010. 
  2. ^ Literary Digest, 16 April 1932
  3. ^ Radium Cures - museumofquackery.com
  4. ^ "Death Stirs Action on Radium 'Cures'. Trade Commission Speeds Its Inquiry. Health Department Checks Drug Wholesalers. Autopsy Shows Symptoms. Maker of "Radithor" Denies It Killed Byers, as Does Victim's Physician in Pittsburgh. Walker Uses Apparatus. Friends Alarmed to Find Mayor Has Been Drinking Radium-Charged Water for Last Six Months.". New York Times. April 2, 1932. Retrieved 2011-10-01. Federal and local agencies, as well as medical authorities in various parts of the country, were stirred to action yesterday as a result of the death of Eben M. Byers, wealthy Pittsburgh steel manufacturer and sportsman, who died here Wednesday at the Doctors' Hospital from causes attributed to radium poisoning resulting from the drinking of water containing radium in solution. ... 
  5. ^ http://www.case.edu/affil/MeMA/MCA/11-20/1991-Nov.pdf
  • Radithor (ca. 1918). 15 Sep. 2004. Oak Ridge Associated Universities. 12 Apr. 2005 [1].

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radithor — Please support Wikipedia.
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86 news items

Royal Society of Chemistry

Royal Society of Chemistry
Tue, 26 Apr 2016 05:33:45 -0700

Triumphs of theory and practice sit alongside tragedies such as the Bhopal disaster in India, and misguided developments like Radithor – a radium concoction intended as medicine. While Lowe's background in organic and medicinal chemistry is evident ...


Sun, 24 Apr 2016 23:00:00 -0700

Uranium blankets for arthritis, radium brooches for rheumatism, even radioactive cosmetics for that 'newly poisoned' look. But the most disturbing practice was a cure-all drink called Radithor – branded water that contained Radium and Mesothorium, and ...


Sun, 24 Apr 2016 15:07:30 -0700

... transformés est une réalité, même si les risques sur la santé sont flous. Entre mythe et réalité, les légumes mutants effraient. A l'inverse, on vantait il y a un siècle les vertus de potions radioactives comme le Radithor. Retour à l'émission du ...


Fri, 01 Apr 2016 12:31:08 -0700

... Heilquellen Erfolge feierten. Erst als das mit Radium versetzte Wasser "Radithor", welches bis 1931 in Trinkflaschen zum Verkauf stand, den Tod des Stahlmagnaten Eben Byers herbeiführte, wurde die gesundheitsschädliche Wirkung von Radium erkannt.

The Guardian

The Guardian
Sun, 23 Aug 2015 09:05:09 -0700

'Fat water' is the latest invention in the craze for the clear stuff. Here are six of the strangest waters making health and beauty claims. 'Lots of people are really working the water space,' says food futurologist Morgaine Gaye. Paula Cocozza ...


Thu, 19 Sep 2013 05:37:35 -0700

Il Radithor era una mistura letale: flaconi di acqua distillata con l'aggiunta di un microcurie di radio 226 e 228. Il suo “inventore”, William J. A. Bailey, si spacciava per dottore in medicina nonostante fosse uscito da Harvard senza laurearsi e i ...


Mon, 30 Mar 2015 09:59:32 -0700

The New York state attorney general's office recently accused dietary-supplement retailers of putting deeply flawed products on shelves for consumers. According to the state investigation, some “herbal supplements” made fraudulent claims, while some ...

Next City

Next City
Thu, 02 Oct 2014 05:49:30 -0700

The harmful effects of high levels of radiation cause legitimate alarm, and the fact that the danger can't be seen serves to only amplify fears. But a onetime cultural curiosity — the early-20th-century belief that radium was something wondrous and ...

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